by Peter Cranie

Firstly some background. I’m a UCU membership secretary at my place of work. Like many people I voted for strike action over pensions. I went down to the march with Mrs C and my two boys.

On Merseyside the local paper reports that,

“In Liverpool, 142 out of 169 schools were partially or fully closed; in Wirral 96 out of 128 were fully or partially shut; in Sefton 75 out of 105 were partially closed or shut; in St Helens 42 schools out of 56 were hit and in Knowsley 57 out of 65 were affected in some way. A total of 25 out of 67 schools in Halton were also closed.”

Radio City reports that there were over 3,000 protestors on the march. Looking around, there were the familiar faces of people I know from various socialist parties in the city, a few good Labour people I know (credit to you and shame on your leader), fellow Greens but not under a banner but with the majority clearly teachers, lecturers and public sector workers that were in no way “the usual suspects”. The Telegraph has a good photo from Liverpool and certainly better than any I managed.

The atmosphere was good, some singing by an NUT choir near the beginning, and some good natured chanting and the obligatory megaphone oratory, although I was keen to move past that quickly with two nearly asleep under 3s in the double buggy. There were a lot of families there, and we had to exit before the end to ensure both boys got fed. The humour was good, as ever, in Liverpool.

“What do we want?”

“Fair pensions!”

“When do we want them?”

“Er, 2036?”

It felt like a family day out but with an edge. No one easily gives up a day’s pay in these hard times. £40-£70 is a lot for many people to forsake when they have soaring energy and transport costs on frozen wages. But there was a feeling of solidarity – an often overused word – and a sense that if we have to, we’ll be out again, and again. While public sector workers, teachers and lecturers all want an acceptable deal, it increasingly seems this pensions proposal is about government finances.

Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs have made clear their priorities – lower corporation tax year on year for the private sector instead of nailing them for tax avoidance, and choosing to sting public sector workers in every which way you can – pay freezes, IfL charges and pension contributions. We won’t have it in Liverpool (or anywhere else) and we will continue to fight back.